New Home Tips, Trends, and Ideas - Raleigh Custom Home Builders

How to Build an Accessible Home | Accessible Driveway Requirements

Posted by Penny Hull on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 @ 08:03 AM

Raleigh Accessible Home Design | Driveway Design for Universal Homes

When building an accessible or universal design home, there are specific requirements and guidelines for how custom builders design the driveway, walkway, and entrances. Here are the basics you'll want to discuss with your custom home builder.

Universal design homes should offer driveways that are a little wider than normal, usually at least 12 feet wide, with an easy turn onto the property.  The end of the driveway should be flared to accommodate turning. 

This accessible home garage has a walkway that wraps the home, and ample turning space in the driveway:

How to Build an Accessible Home | Wheelchair Accessible Driveway Requirements


A universal design driveway needs to be formed from a smooth surface material such as concrete or asphalt, particularly in areas where passengers will be loading and unloading. 

Slope should be minimized where possible, with careful grading.  In regions where icy conditions are possible, it is recommended that the grade of the driveway not exceed 10 percent. In warmer regions, the recommended slope is 15 percent.


This Raleigh custom home has a wheelchair accessible driveway and zero threshold front door:

How to Build an Accessible Home | Wheelchair Accessible Driveway Requirements

If the driveway will be used regularly as a walkway to the home, the area should be graded to about 8 percent, with a maximum 1:12 slope to accommodate wheelchairs.  This is a slope typical for wheelchair ramps as well.

Your driveway should provide level access to your home if at all possible. The driveway should do the climbing – not you. If it is designed appropriately within the constraints of the site, you may be able to avoid steps and ramps.

If your home is on a hill, the place where you park should be at the same level as the foundation. If your home is on a slope, you’ll need a level plateau where you can climb out of your car with adjacent access to a walkway – and you’ll need 60 inches diameter in order to maneuver a wheelchair. 

Keep this in mind when choosing the lot for your new custom universal design home. A more level lot can help you save significantly on costs for grading, building retaining walls, and either removing or importing soil to create sufficient level ground.

All of these accommodations need to be considered before construction begins on your home. It may even be necessary to change the home’s design to offer an ideally designed driveway. 

For example, most homes have their garage or carport on the low side of a slope, which means there will be steps leading into the home.  This type of construction helps limit site costs, but if steps need to be eliminated, your builder may be able to move the driveway and entrances to the high side of a slope. This could keep steps from being required.  However, this may require additional costs for foundation and driveway, as the entire home may need to built a little higher.

You may also want to provide a carport or covered walkway to provide protection against the weather. This can be constructed at the same time as your home, or added later.

If a site is well planned, it may also be able to accommodate later changes to the driveway, such as widening or lengthening so that additional vehicles can park there.

Custom touches can also make life easier, such as reflective markers at the entrance and both sides of a steep or curved driveway, snowmelt tubing installed in the driveway surface in cold climates, or freaming of the area that leads into the home.

Check with your custom home builder for more ways to make your driveway a universal design.

How to Build an Accessible Home | Wheelchair Accessible Driveway Requirements

Experienced Accessible Home Builders –

Stanton Homes is an industry leading accessible, universal, certified Aging in Place and VA-approved Specially Adapted Housing custom home builder.

Whether you start with a plan that is designed for accessibility, ask us to modify or create a new plan, we can build in wider hallways and doorways, entry ways, turning radius, non-slip flooring, ramps and walkways, special lighting, roll out or pull out shelving, easy grope door, faucet and drawers, accessible switches, no step entries, roll-in showers, ADA roll-under countertops and work spaces, and whatever else you need.  

Get help finding an accessible home floor plan in North Carolina, here.

Tags: How to build an accessible home, nc custom home builders, universal design homes, Universal Design Home Builders, accessible homes, accessible home design